UCF Scholars Win NSF Graduate Fellowship

Posted by on Thursday, April 28, 2011 21:28 - 0 Comments

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UCF McNair scholars Rene Diaz, a senior Mechanical Engineering & Aerospace Engineering major, and Keon Vereen, a masters student in Aerospace Engineering, have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. Scholar Elise Hernandez, Psychology major,  was recognized with an honorable mention.

Diaz and Vereen are two of 2,000 students nationwide to receive the award, which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.

The scholars credit the McNair program for their success. When asked how the program assisted them, each of the scholars emphasized the importance of the personal and technical support the program provides.

Vereen appreciated his faculty advisor’s willingness “to take my rough drafts and turn them into a polished application.” Vereen’s winning submission was the product of 15 revisions.

Diaz explains that, if not for his graduate McNair mentor, his NSF application would not have been possible. Rene’s graduate mentor, Roberto Miguez, a UCF McNair alum and NSF fellow currently enrolled at the University of Michigan, helped Rene by sharing past experiences, advice, and an eagerness to see a fellow McNair scholar succeed.

For Hernandez, her plan had always been to wait until her first year in graduate school to submit an NSF application. She was encouraged by UCF McNair director, Michael Aldarondo-Jeffries, to submit an application during her senior year for the experience of participating in the process. “The fact that I ended up submitting a really decent application that I can use as a framework for next year is amazing.” says Hernandez.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. Benefits include a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, a $10,500 annual cost-of-education allowance, international research and professional development opportunities and access to TeraGrid supercomputing facilities.

Since 2007, six UCF McNair scholars have been awarded NSF fellowships and four scholars have received honorable mentions.

UCF McNair Winners:

  • Robert Miguez, University of Michigan (2009)
  • Melonie Sexton Williams, Vanderbilt University (2009)
  • Enrique Ortiz, University of Central Florida (2007)
  • Anamary Leal, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (2010)

UCF McNair Honorable Mention Awards:

  • Jamie Durate, University of California Irvine (2010)
  • Keon Vereen, University of Central Florida (2010)
  • Melonie Williams, Vanderbilt University (2008)






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